By Vicki Needham - 04/17/14 01:24 PM EDT
The House's top Democrat blasted Republican leaders on Thursday for refusing to take up a Senate-passed bill to renew emergency unemployment benefits.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) called the failure of House Republicans to consider the measure “callous, shortsighted and immoral,” in a Thursday response to a recent letter sent by two governors.
“Never before has Congress allowed emergency unemployment insurance to expire while long-term unemployment rates have remained so high."
The Senate passed the measure last week before leaving for their spring recess.
But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week that "the ball's still in their court" in arguing that the White House has yet to send him any ideas for job creation measures that could be included in the bill.
Boehner said he made clear in December that any jobless benefit legislation must be paid for and would have to include programs designed to create jobs and boost economic growth.
"I made clear what it would take for me to consider it. They've not had any suggestions,” he said.
Pelosi was responding to a letter from Independent Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval sent April 11 urging the House to act swiftly to extend emergency unemployment insurance.
The program hits its four-month expiration date the day Congress is set to return from a two-week recess April 28.
The governors' letter, addressed to Boehner and Pelosi, expressed strong support for the bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate last week.
Democrats argue that 2.4 million people who have been out of work for at least six months have been affected by the program's lapse.
They also say that the lack of the program will cost 240,000 jobs this year and billions of dollars in economic output.
“These Americans and their families are only just holding on by their fingernails, struggling to feed their families, pay their bills and stay in their homes,” Pelosi wrote.
“Many of them are unemployed veterans who were willing to sacrifice everything to keep our nation safe, and who are now finding this essential economic lifeline evaporate in their hour of need.”